Multi-platinum-selling country group BLACKHAWK recently teamed with USA Today for the premiere of their new single “Brothers of the Southland,” the band’s anthemic tribute to some of Southern music’s most iconic figures, among them Duane Allman and Ronnie Van Zant.
The song can be heard here: http://usat.ly/1mV2VY5.
“Brothers of the Southland” is also the title track of BlackHawk’s new album, which arrives July 8 via Loud & Proud Records. Co-produced by the band (guitarist/vocalist Henry Paul and keyboardist/vocalist Dave Robbins) and Dale Oliver (Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman), Brothers Of The Southland is BlackHawk’s first studio release in 12 years.
About the single, Henry Paul says he set out to “pay respects to a collection of people that were large in my life, like the Marshall Tucker Band and Ronnie Van Zant. I talk about Ronnie’s ‘angel’s voice and devil’s smile,’ contrasting the mischievous and highly principled parts of his personality. And while I didn’t know Duane Allman, we certainly grew up revering him and losing him and Barry Oakley from the Allman Brothers was tragic. The song pulls from my childhood, too, with Southern imagery like gospel tents.”
The song “really embodies Henry’s past with these other people,” says Dave Robbins. “We’re not just paying homage to a genre of music or a geographical topic. When Henry sings about the guys from Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers and the Marshall Tucker Band, he’s talking about people he worked with and grew up with."
Players on the track include Lynyrd Skynyrd’s original guitarist Ed King (the co-writer of “Sweet Home Alabama”); Paul Riddle, the original drumer for the Marshall Tucker Band; and original Outlaws drummer Monte Yoho and current Outlaws guitarist Chris Anderson. Paul and Robbins penned the tune with Survivor’s Jim Peterik, who has some experience with anthems, having co-written “Eye of the Tiger," one of the best-selling singles of all time.
The album also includes tribute to BlackHawk’s own early-‘90s roots in the form of three unearthed demos that Paul and Robbins recorded with the band's late co-founder, Van Stephenson. "Heart With A View," Wide Open Spaces," and "Baby, The Rain Must Fall.” Robbins predicts that fans are “going to be ecstatic when they hear three little jewels featuring Van singing with us. It’s the three of us playing and singing live, with an acoustic guitar, mandolin and a piano and not a bunch of edits. We're so excited to be able to include Van's amazing voice on these songs. It makes the album that much more special.”
Paul, Robbins and Stephenson exploded onto the country music landscape in 1993 with their self-titled album and top 10 hit single “Goodbye Says It All.” Three more hit singles followed (“Every Once In A While,” “I Sure Can Smell The Rain” and “That’s Just About Right”), propelling the album to platinum status. They maintained that pace in the years that followed, scoring a dozen top ten hits, including two number ones, while selling more than seven million records. Tragedy struck in 1999 when Van was diagnosed with melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. After a long and courageous fight, Van tragically lost his battle in 2001.
Making an artistic and commercial comeback wasn’t the only motivation for firing up the band again. “Van’s dying requests were ‘Keep BlackHawk going, because there’s a lot of great music left in the band… and do what you can do to try and help find a cure for cancer,” says Henry. To that end, he and Dave founded the Van Stephenson Memorial Fund, which raises funds for organizations like the Vanderbilt Women’s Cancer Research Center in Nashville.
Over the years, BlackHawk’s songs have touched people young and old and their unique musical character has been a catalyst in bringing non-country music fans to the genre. Though they haven’t recorded until now, BlackHawk has continued to tour and play to packed-house audiences across the country. “Our band was always different than many or most of the other groups in our sort of category,” says Henry. “We had a little bit more of a pop lyrical sensibility that brought a lot of people that weren’t necessarily country music fans into the fold of BlackHawk fans.”
That fresh attitude toward the making of their music is certainly appreciated by the twentysomething-year-old fans (affectionately dubbed “wingnuts”) who make up much of BlackHawk’s improbably youthful audience. But it doesn’t matter which demographic they fit into: BlackHawk fans aren’t sons, uncles, dads, or nephews of the Southland, but in the end, as the title says, brothers.
For tour dates, please visit blackhawklive.com
About Loud & Proud Records
Loud & Proud Records is an independent record label founded in 2007 by Tom Lipsky whose mission is to provide a true and transparent partnership between artists and their record label. Labels under Lipsky's direction in the past (CMC International, Sanctuary Records Group) have been among the market leaders in the veteran artist space with releases by Neil Young, Lynyrd Skynyrd, KISS, Robert Plant, Morrissey, Earth Wind & Fire, The Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Bad Company and more. In a previous joint-venture with Roadrunner Records, Loud & Proud was responsible for new albums by Rush, Lenny Kravitz, Rob Zombie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, KISS, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and The Steve Miller Band. Loud & Proud’s current roster includes five-time Emmy Award winning actor and musician Jonathan Jackson and his band Enation, supergroup rock band The Winery Dogs, renowned jam band The String Cheese Incident, multi-platinum country artists BlackHawk, Seattle’s alternative Walking Papers, critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter Willie Nile, powerhouse rockers KIX and the classic Starship featuring Mickey Thomas. Loud & Proud Records is a registered trademark of Lipsky Music, LLC, and is distributed in the U.S. and Canada by RED and in the rest of the world by earMUSIC/Edel AG.